‘Take pictures of these and show your friends!’
Sushi in the Iranian supermarket
On my way home that day, this kind lady helped me find my way to my host. She got off the bus and walked with me / waited with me for 15 minutes. I gave her a chocolate bar, the only gift-able gift I had with me.
One of my favourite cities, for sure. I had the most meaningful memory in Isfahan. But not really, Shiraz and Qazvin and Tehran were so special too, because of all the people I’ve met. Sigh.
Outside the Shah Mosque, I think.
In the evening we ate saffron ice cream and cruised down the streets blasting Persian pop with the windows wound down, driving past watermelons
female drivers whee!
along the streets
Azar shared with me that sanctions against Iran have led to the closure of many factories and resulting unemployment; once she received 1 month’s salary only after 6 months. ‘But my father told me once that when you are in the sea and you feel you may be drowning you should not feel hopeless. You should try to reach out for a float or a stone, and you should not feel hopeless.’ I wish you all the best in your dreams, Azar.
I arrived from Kashan to Isfahan in 2 – 3hours. The bus gave a banana bread and orange juice, which I gobbled down.
From the bus terminal I took a cab to Azar’s house. I showed the driver my address and despite the seeming initial agreement of 80k he insisted it was 100k rials when I got off…. Fine, except he dropped me off and rang the doorbell of a home I didn’t know. Well blessing in disguise!
What unravelled was a series of unexpected events.
So the doorbell rang and the door was opened, and I stepped in. Someone came down the stairs – it was a girl, quite a young girl. I showed her my message and she said it was the wrong address. I caught a glimpse of the house and it was lovely. She tried to call my host, but it could not get through. She invited me to her home and we laughed and I shamelessly accepted her offer (or rather she insisted).
Shortly after her mother offered me melon tea and some candied nuts which tasted awesome.
Her brother and father came home, and before long the living room was lively with conversations and the strums of the guitar. So kind of them to perform for me, really!
My host came after the brother of the family went over to the address to call her. They were engaged in deep conversation and laughter in lively Persian as I sat and watched, trying to guess (and clearly failing) what they were discussing about.
Shortly after (they invited us to stay for lunch!) we went back.
It was such a lively atmosphere.
the living room that came alive with the sounds of the guitar and their singing – how surreal it seems, now. stumbling into a stranger’s home.
my very first taste of those delicious candied almonds! I had to remind myself to stop eating so much. i really wanted to buy some back, but with SG’s humidity they’d turn into a sticky mess.
Before I left they put a jewellery in a gift box (with a ribbon!!) and gave it to me as a present, luckily I brought some SG magnets and Milo packets to spare. Such hospitality :’)
Hello to one of my favourite cities.
My photographer. He was really funny. Typical Chinese camwhore Millennial who went trigger-happy with poses, even brought a Lonely Planet book for a prop, and I was of course a happy Chinese recipient.
8am – I reached Shiraz after slightly over 6 hours, at 2.30pm or so.
As I walked along the streets towards the bazaar, a man (shoe shop stall) said ‘welcome to Iran’ and another said ‘oh my god’ with a smile. As I turned towards the latter while continuing forward, the shoe shop’s worker handed me a pair of slippers. ‘For me??’ I asked in disbelief, he nodded and I waved thank you and walked on. I initially said ‘it’s ok i don’t need’, I wonder if that was rude.
Early morning. I was the 3rd visitor to arrive.
trickle of sunshine
One of the many architectural gems, where sunlight trickles in through the stained-glass windows and spills rainbow puddles on the carpeted floors
Ah yes, > 9 am now you see the tourists.
Marieh was my host in Shiraz. I don’t have a photo with her (sadly, I regret, actually, not initiating) but we had a lovely time cooking dishes together. My bak kut teh honestly turned out to be yummy, and I loved eating/drinking some homely and familiar food too (though i haven’t been gone for that long, really).
Talking about religion:
but not so many close friends. There’s not much entertainment here – no parties…’
She brought me to have some dessert in the evening.
It was in Shiraz that I had my first carrot juice with ice cream – havij bastani.
I tried to look like I enjoyed it.
Hosseini, the first driver I encountered in Shiraz. Early morning, after leaving Marieh’s apartment, I walked down and flagged a cab.
Hosseini shares with me that he used to study English 10 years ago, and used to fluently guide many tourists. But his grandmother and father fell sick so he had to return to his hometown to take care of them. Now he’s back in Shiraz he has to work so he can’t continue his English studies. ‘But if I practice I know I will be very good.’ I sensed a certain hunger and frustration in his sharing, like stumbling upon a dusty book you once knew by heart.
When I was done with my trigger-happy friend and another Singaporean ‘travel blogger’ we met in the mosque, I was surprised to see Hosseini still outside. He asked me where I was heading to, and I said I wanted to take the bus to Qalat village. He offered to drive me to the bus station, and I accepted his offer.
We eventually drove to Qalat village (or Ghalat village), 45 minutes away.
We conversed in English. I drew mountains and rivers to illustrate the words, to remind him of these words he was once familiar with.
Hiked down a path where friends were having a picnic, as the sounds of the rushing river got louder. In this incredibly hot and dry weather, the cool waters of the river brought about a huge relief and felt like one of the BEST things I can ever feel in life. It feels THAT good, yes. Spent some time splashing and immersing in the coolness of the river water.
Hosseini later asked if I wanted to visit his sister, who lived along the way.
I love seeing these watermelons in the summer streets. Other than tasting incredibly amazing in this heat, watermelons remind me of the people who invited me to have some, and the interesting conversations over them. The construction workers, the hostel receptionist, the families who invite me in. These watermelons cool and warm me in ways I will always remember.
putting this picture of my first time for records. hahah memories
honestly, i can still remember her gentle fingers
as she placed the scarf over my head
tenderly fixing my cloth
over my face
helping me to fix my hair, pin it together
and she smiled.
she smiled because she felt she was blessing me. i can still recall those gentle fingers against my skin.
Shiraz is special to me. Isfahan was my favourite city because of the memories I forged, but Shiraz, thank you Hosseini.
In the evening, I said goodbye to Marieh and her very active husky, went to the bus station, and left.
There, a short encounter that left me pondering. A man tried to help me clarify regarding the bus ticket, when the person at the counter told me there was none left except for the one that cost X price. The man told me in ‘English’ to follow him. He was later spoken to by some official-looking people from the bus station (security, perhaps? but men dressed in shirts). I tried to step in to say this man didn’t say anything to me; the officers (?) waved me off and said my bus was leaving.
This was one of the more… prominent incidents I noted about my trip.
Our chicken rice for lunch. In my opinion, it tasted great :p I miss how Azar’s mum would prepare the SWEETEST HONEYDEW i’ve ever eaten in my life (no lie), so juicy and an absolute bliss in the heat 😥
Unfortunately, we didn’t complete the hike (barely started) because a man started asking me many questions about where I came from, how long I was here for, etc. Elhem got worried and decided that we shouldn’t proceed with the hike. While I was hesitant to stop, given my one-chance at Sofeh mountain and Cz’s recommendation, I could tell Elhem was growing increasingly uncomfortable as we bumped into the man again. Eventually she persuaded me again and i relented, and we went down. While I was a little disappointed about missing the hike i was looking forward to, i found consolation in spending the rest of my day with the girls.
Thank you Isfaha, it has been absolutely lovely 🙂
It takes a 4.5 hour ride or more bus ride to Yazd from Isfahan. I departed at 2pm and I reached in the evening,
I remember their sticky taste as I gulped down my (precious!) water eargerly. It was incredibly hot and the gingery taste of the biscuits melted on my lips.
The next day the Danish guy, myself and Amanda got a shared transport to 5 places (1. the Zoroastrianism temple from pre-Islam, I think, 2. the underground city of Nooshabad, 3. another random place with a view, 4. Abyaneh and 5. Fin Garden.)
We paid $10.50 SGD each, which was really cheap. Amanda knows her stuff! Hahaha.
Reminds me of Central Asia.
I’ll start with my favourite pictures first.
The underground city of Nooshabad, with its deep tunnels and labyrinths. We peered into their ‘living rooms’, their ‘toilets’ and I tried to picture how it’d be like living in a place like this.
Their source of air ventilation
Tourist who said he wanted to go down to explore the (unofficial) bottom storey, and the guide actually allowed.
Here, the morning walk towards the Zoroastrian temple.
Amanda. I wonder if she’s still frolicking around Central Asia.
That random place with a view where we stopped, but didn’t catch what our guide said. Hahah sigh. Tourists.
the narrow alleys
We skipped Fin Garden at the end, which reminds me of the travel saturation thing. I was really fascinated and in awe of the mosques and their kaleidoscopic designs but I am slightly worried it’s starting to wear off. I wanted to visit Samarkand (Uzbekistan) so, so badly for their architecture but I have a feeling they’ll be similar to the patterns in the mosques here as well as Qom, for example. 😦 It’s like the churches in Europe, …
Upon reaching the Kashan bus terminal, taxi touts came towards me and asked me where I was heading to. One of them told me he was going back to the city so he’d bring me there for a discount, I showed him the address of my CS host, Shirin Hostel. We drove in and I walked along the roads, past the sandy walls, and reached a road dusty with construction. Apparently that road was perfectly intact just a few days ago, and construction was just recently ongoing.
While walking back to the hostel with Allahyah, my CS host (who let me stay in his hostel for free for 2 nights when it’s 13 dollars a night – such an amazing gesture, really, i wouldn’t have really believed it until CZ also shared about his Yazd host), we were chatting when I bumped into a Singaporean girl who recognised my accent. We traded numbers to think about sharing our transport for the next day. Hurray! What a small world!
My host was legit (hahah!) I had initial apprehension about staying for free in a HOSTEL, but all was good. I met another Danish guy who ended up staying in the same dorm room as me (only both of us in the room) and he paid. So yes, my host is pretty awesome in sharing his abundance of space.
I should have taken a photo of Shirin Hostel, but I didn’t! But it was so comfortable – very new and clean, wifi, plugs work well, peace and quiet, hot shower. Highly recommended. Even if it weren’t free.
Instagram and Telegram are used abundantly throughout Iran! I’d see the metro stations with Instagram and Telegram accounts too (like how we use Whatsapp to report errors in our MRTs).
I was welcomed by a Kurdish guy. Feeling apprehensive initially, I told him Allahyah was my friend, and he nodded and showed me my room. This guy, whose name I sadly can no longer remember, was a great guy. He spoke great English, told me a lot about the Kurdish history / struggle of Kurdistan, his aspirations and offered me practically the whole watermelon – a saving grace in the sweltering heat. When I think back to that watermelon moment and its cooling touch against my tongue, and the fact that he took it out of the miracle of a FRIDGE, cut it apart, just for me. :’) I WILL NOT FORGET THIS. I gave him a Singapore pen at the end. We shook hands.
THE rooftop of Kashan Bazaar!
Websites mentioned that to access this rooftop view, you’d have to pay for a guide / shopkeeper who’d be willing to show you up the stairs.
I was lucky enough to have met a shopkeeper who offered to show me up there. It was beautiful!
look like crap here, but putting it here for memory’s sake HAHAH
Met some French girls in my hostel the second morning. They offered an invitation for dinner, so I went along, for one of those meals where I sat down in a pretty place and relaxed (sometimes, by myself, I do have a tendency to walk and eat so I get to make use of my time exploring. so it was nice, sitting down and chilling.)
wah, that saffron rice. im feeling hungry now.
We had saffron ice cream after dinner, which was YUMMY!
The chicken was a tad too salty. We also had that ‘dough’ (dug?) drink, which was… frankly, not that palatable, to me.
The ones we had were salty, and I couldn’t quite go through another cup without drinking water HAHAHA. Perhaps too much salt for this one, and had a taste I find hard to describe, with a texture like thick yogurt. Perhaps salty yogurt, with mint leaves.